Disclaimer: This article presumes that you are familiar with a Funneled approach to marketing automation, that you are using a CRM and/or BI tool. Having worked at Act-On Software for nearly two years, prior to joining Nvoicepay, I had the opportunity to talk with thousands of marketers, in almost every industry imaginable, about almost every marketing topic imaginable. I witnessed great success and miserable failure in some of the biggest companies you’ve ever heard of and plenty more that you’ll never hear of.
One of the biggest struggles companies had was understanding the results of their marketing efforts, proving success through data, and knowing how to generate quality reports that allow them to optimize their strategy.
The truth behind that struggle is that most marketers, regardless of experience, have little to no technical or data science background. The learning curve on Marketing Automation is already steep enough without
requiring a marketer to create reports that measure things they’ve never measured, or even conceptualized before.
While some MA tools are getting better at generating useful reports out of the box the truly insightful reports are ones you have to create yourself. I’m not aware of a single marketing automation tool that will allow you to create the kind of reports, I’m going to outline, straight out of the box, without significant customization.
The First 3 Metrics
1. Days in Top of Funnel
2. Days in Middle of Funnel
3. Days in Bottom of Funnel
Metric Importance: Critical
Set-Up Difficulty: Easy
Caveat: Many MA tools offer funnel reporting but I’m not aware of one that works well out of the box, doesn’t require heavy customization, or is simple enough for most marketers to figure out.
It’s shocking to me how many companies who take a funneled approach to MA don’t actually report on the amount of time “Leads” spends at each stage of the funnel. The truth is most marketers don’t know they should be reporting on this information yet they do know they need something to tell them how well their processes are working.
Many companies take an incomplete, and typically inaccurate, approach to tracking funnel progression by using the “Creation Date” of the “Lead” and comparing it with the date it hit “MQL” to get a quasi-total of “Days in Marketing” or “Days in Funnel”.
If your company markets to different verticals and to a variety of titles there is no excuse for not knowing exactly how long it takes you to convert an “outbound” or “inbound” lead to MQL status. That should be an absolute minimum for every lead you have.
Where the truly insightful reporting starts is in understanding where people spend the most time in your funnel (ToFu, MoFu, BoFu). The next layer of insight is in understanding if different titles take more time in certain places or if certain industries demonstrate a different funnel velocity at different funnel stages.
In your CRM you’re going to want to create three number fields on the “Lead” object that help you report on the different stages you have in your funnel. For my example you’ll want to create: Days in ToFu, Days in MoFu, and Days in BoFu.
Once you’ve done that you’ll want to update the CRM master list, in your MA tool, to now include these fields so that your MA tool can automate the process of tracking this type of lead progression. This data is typically generated through an “automated program” or your MA tool’s version of an automated list maintenance program which should have a function for simple counting.
You can keep a running visual report in your CRM for each funnel state that shows you how long people are spending in your different funnel stages. If you are running this report for the Top of the Funnel you’d typically do so on people who were no longer in that stage so that the numbers you are looking at are final.
Pair this with the activity history of your records and you’ll begin to see the trends in which content pieces are moving people. If you’re finding its taking people too many days in a particular stage to reach your best content then you’ll have the information you need to move it up in your drip campaigns or re-position on your website.
If you know your marketing automation and CRM tools decently well then you’ve already recognized how easy it would be to configure and track these metrics. If you don’t then you can reach out to me directly for consulting. One way or another you need these metrics yesterday.
Every marketing effort is struggling to reach some portion of its audience. This information will allow you to know exactly who that part of the audience is while answering part of the why. It will also point you to your greatest successes by showing you whose moving the fastest.
Your ability as a marketer to evaluate your current success and then improve on what you’re doing requires that you have data to tell you what has happened. If you have to guess or make approximations instead of being able to run a report that shows you exactly what I’m describing you’re missing out.
If you want to track how long its taking for your sales team to pick up your MQL’s for evaluation create a “Days in MQL” field. You can use the same MA tactics to generate the data. Once a sales rep has moved the MQL to SQL your automation will stop, assuming you set it up right.
It will allow Marketing to find out how long its taking Sales to work your best leads. It’s information that will empower both the marketing and sales execs to create accountability.